Late last week my Mother was upset and angry when I telephoned. After the ritual hello and how are you, she let into me about how wrong I was on society being composed of mainly good people. Like many, she takes the evening and Internet news as gospel because when she was my age, what she heard and saw on the news had more truth than fiction. I tell her for every story of a crazed, degenerate lunatic or murderous, psychotic person given their fifteen minutes of fame; there are one hundred thousand good people who will never make the headlines. Of course I made up those stats but I think I’m close enough to get my point across. I remind her that good news sadly doesn’t sell.
She’s a glass half empty gal and I see the glass half full. We don’t agree on much except that we love each other despite our differences. Her frustration was frustrating me so I asked her what she was so angry about. In one, breathless sentence she told me her friend Ted, who’s been in a motorized wheelchair for several years after having lost the use of his legs, got wedged in a sidewalk crack and as he attempted to free himself, he overturned his wheelchair which landed on him and broke three bones in his legs. He couldn’t lift the chair off himself and became exhausted in the effort. Over an hour went by and not one of the many people who passed him as he cried out in pain offered any help. Finally the police came when someone drove by, saw him and called 911. Over an hour he lay there, cold, alone, helpless and in pain.
I was shocked and saddened. I’m sad when I think of it now. His broken bones were repaired but the mental anguish remains. Those scars may never heal. He has become depressed thinking his life worthless, not worth the call on a strangers cell phone. He questions if he wants to live in a world where strangers treat each other with such indifference. For the first time in a long time, I had no words to say to my Mother.
Today, I am again shocked and saddened to hear how a good Samaritan in New York City lay prostrate, cold, alone, helpless and in pain, until he died. And no one helped. Not one person stopped to help, not even the stranger who took a picture of him perhaps to post on YouTube.
Today, my glass is half empty.